“Butter chicken is not authentic Indian food,” said restaurateur Freddie Zulfiqar at a sit-down media event for Zaaffran this past Tuesday night. It was a sentiment shared by the 110-strong crowd gathered to enjoy the established Indian restaurant’s cuisine in the buzzing Darling Harbour precinct. What Zaaffran (meaning saffron) does well is “capture the essence of traditional Indian cuisine and present it with contemporary flair”. Head Chef Vikrant Kapoor has ensured that the restaurant’s new-look menu incorporated food from all areas of India, giving the menu a more diverse offering.
While nearby Barangaroo has offered the city a fresh tourist spot and, right outside the restaurant’s water-facing windows, the new International Convention Centre Sydney is nearing completion, Zaaffran’s décor mirrors this in modern fixtures, sleek lines and clean spaces. However, the restaurant’s slick white walls still feature elements that evoke the spirit of Zaaffran’s cuisine. Traditional Indian kerosene lamps hang from the wide balcony, making this an exotic touch for al fresco diners. Colourful tiling is incorporated in the venue’s reception and bar area. Zulfiqar has seen to it that Zaaffran presents modern Indian dining to a thoroughly modern clientele.
Kapoor has developed a new Koomcha (hawker food) menu, rich in spices and flavour, which is exactly what you want from an establishment of this nature. We were treated to tasters such as the Firangi Frankie (a taco-style wrap filled with lamb), the Dakhani Kebab (chicken tenderloins flavoured with pepper, ginger and garlic and eaten with a curry leaf) and the Pasliyaan Majnoon (delectable pieces of angus beef, served with yoghurt, garlic, chilli and garam masala.
The Bhojan (main) tasters were also presented well, and packed in as many flavours as the previous course. The Zaaffran Khoorus Biryani was a treat in itself and was, to many a visitor’s delight, like a biryani pie! Filled chicken, birista (fried onions) garam masala and saffron rice was encased in pastry. It was served with a side of mint yoghurt to add cool relief to a diner’s flavour-filled taste buds.
Special mention goes to Zaaffran’s desserts, or Meetha (meaning “sweet”), which included the unbelievable Gulab Aur Elaichi Ka Piyushi, a crème brûlée made with fresh strawberries, salted cashews and praline.
As Darling Harbour reinvents itself to finally move away from the tourist-trap rep of Sydney City and towards something much more worth, for visitors and locals alike, Zaaffran is in the perfect position to welcome new diners with open arms, with one foot planted firmly in traditional Indian flavours and the other in the future of Sydney dining.
6pm – 9:30pm*
Fri – Sat
5:30pm – 10:15pm*
10 Darling Drive, Level 2, Harbourside Centre, Darling Harbour | (02)9211 8900 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.zaaffran.com || Mon-Sun 12pm-2:30pm (lunch); Sun-Thu 6pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:15pm.
Images supplied and used with permission.